New Music Tools

Here’s a list of the things I need in order to keep a steady stream of new music coming my way:

  • The local free weekly “punk rock ethic” liberal newspaper/magazine.  No matter what your political affiliation, these are the best and most up to date sources I can find for good shows coming to town.  Even with all the great tech these days, nothing beats these pubs for finding when ur favorite band is coming. For Seattle it’s the Stranger, in Boston it was the Phoenix, in NYC, Time Out (but TO is international, bigger than other similar pubs, but still very detailed, timely and local)
  • – quite simply the best radio station I’ve ever heard.  I love NYC, but the radio there sucks (although KEXP has a beachhead in Brooklyn now).  Boston has some good stations – tons of good local college stations in Boston, but they can get too far gone at times – and of course there is WFNX, the commercial alt rock outfit.  KEXP is a brilliant combination of the two, funded by its fans, it’s not beholden to any corporation and really does play whatever it wants.  Not “indier than thou” that it can’t play the occasional “big” band like Death Cab.  A great mix and a constant source for great new music.  Combine this with Shazam on the Windows Phone and you’re on you way…
  • Bing Music – I know there are supposed to be versions of this type of software that are better, but this is the default service from Bing on my Windows Phone, so it works for me.  If you don’t know about these music “sniffer” services yet and you have a smart phone, get one of these apps.  They are free and it will help you find new music.  Open the app, hit “tag” and put your phone next to the speaker.  It will tell you that song you just heard, who the artist is, the album, etc.  Brilliant. New versions of this type of software are supposed to let you hum a tune into them and tell you what you’re looking for.  Amazing.  The best and most practical application of smart phone apps yet, IMHO.
  • Xbox Music – The evolution from Zune, which has basically moved over to Xbox and is now Xbox music.  It’s not the best music service, but the Microsoft music service is in the right place now and I’m confident that they will continue to improve the service and make it truly competitive w/ the rest of the services.
  • The Xbox Music Pass – I list this separately, as it’s like an upgrade to the Zune experience.  $15 a month for access to their entire catalog plus 10 song credits a month.  Can’t beat it for being able to find that band you heard when you want to listen to their whole record to see if they are for real.
  • Pitchfork – I don’t go there often, but if you want great, professional music reviews check ’em out.  The indie rock music standard.  Sometimes I go there to have them tell me how I feel about an album I’m not sure of.  Just like how I go to the Daily Show or the Colbert Report to tell me how I’m feeling about news and politics.

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